Date of visit: November 2013
A quiet August 2020 weekend and more travel reflection… this time looking back on our trip to Malaysia and actually our first visit to South East Asia! This was our overall trip itinerary:
- Dubai – 2 days
- Singapore – 2 days
- Kuala Lumpur – 2 days
- Langkawi – 6 days
- Singapore – 2 days
This post begins in Kuala Lumpur (having covered the Singapore part of this trip in a previous post).
Following our one hour Air Asia flight we left the rain behind in Singapore and landed in the sunshine in KL! Immigration and the collection of our luggage took about an hour (for some reason) and we finally boarded the AirAsia sky bus to KL Sentral station. From there we took a metro to Putra, the closest station to our hotel. Our room was on the top floor of the 33 story building which gave us great views of the city.
As we had just two days to explore the highlights of KL we thought the best way to do this would be a hop on, hop off bus. Our first stop was to the Petronas Towers, the famous twin skyscrapers that were at one time the tallest buildings in the world.
The next available tickets were not until 14:15 so we had a bit of time to wander around the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) park and shopping mall. The mall was like any other shopping centre with designer shops such as Tiffany and Chanel, and also a Marks & Spencer!
The KLCC park was well maintained and pleasant to explore with its pathways, jogging racks and water features, although it was very hot and humid while doing so!
We had read that you get good views of the Petronas Towers from the nearby Traders Hotel so we made a beeline for their top floor Sky Bar. Of course, it was necessary to enjoy a cocktail or two especially as we needed to cool down! We did indeed have a good view and it is probably even better at night time when the towers are lit up.
We made our way back to the Petronas Towers for our 2:15 pm time slot. At 451.9 meters, the Petronas Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world and are linked by the double decker skybridge (above) on the 41st and 42nd floors.
Back on the bus and off to our next stop where we disembarked at the Kuala Lumpur Tower. The KL Tower is a telecoms tower and at 421 meters it is the 7th tallest free-standing tower in the world.
By now the weather had changed from hot and humid sunshine to a thunderstorm. Having already ascended two tall building structures we had decided not to go up this one. Our minds were made up as we watched the lightening behind… Then as we were waiting for our bus, we heard a massive crashing sound as something very nearby was struck by lightening! Time to head back to the hotel…
More staying on than hopping off but we did the circuit and had a good tour of the city from the relative comfort of the bus.
Leaving the next morning for the airport…
After our short but interesting visit to KL, we had a small drama as we made our way to the airport for our flight to Langkawi… we arrived via metro at KL Sentral by 9:30 am where we boarded the Air Asia Sky bus to take us back to the airport. The journey to the LCCT (low cost carrier terminal) airport takes about an hour; half way into the journey the bus suddenly pulled over onto the hard shoulder of the 3 lane motorway and stopped!
Thankfully we had allowed an extra hour so were not unduly concerned about missing our flight; we just needed to figure out how to get to the airport! After a while, everyone disembarked the bus and stood on the hard shoulder where thankfully random taxi’s began to stop and take groups of people on their way to the airport. We collected our luggage and shared one with a couple of Australian’s.
The flight between KL and Langkawi took around an hour and we were delighted to see the green tropical landscape as we came into land.
A bit more drama at the tiny airport… feeling relaxed and excited to begin the next part of our adventure we waited patiently at the baggage carousel. We grabbed one case however as the belt emptied and went round a few times we realised the other case was missing. We approached the AirAsia desk to have the following conversation:
“Hello, are you Laura? We have your case… it arrived on the flight before”
We had split our stay in Langkawi into two parts… while browsing accommodation options we found a beautiful looking hotel, the 5* Casa del Mar. But at around £180 per night we decided it was a tad over our budget. Our compromise was to spend 3 nights in a beachside budget hut and splurge for our final 3 nights in the Casa del Mar! Sorted! And this would give us two different experiences of the same little town on the island.
We purchased a ticket from the taxi booth for a taxi to our first accommodation, the Tropical Resort right next to Pantai Tengah beach. Wow! What a gorgeous little place with a cute wooden terrace which was surrounded with tropical plants and a 2 minute walk along a sandy path to the beach.
This was only £30 per night but was clean and basic and had some lovely owners.
We had decided to do most of our Langkawi exploring for the first 3 days in order to make the most of the luxury hotel afterwards.
We had a brilliant time exploring a range of local restaurants for breakfast and dinner and went out to visit some of Langkawi’s attractions. Sugar (above) is a lovely beach bar from which you can watch the sunset as you sip a cocktail.
Each day, we hired a driver for the whole day who would take us anywhere we wanted on the island.
Day 1 – exploring Langkawi: Oriental Village, Cable Car and the Datai
The receptionist had called us a taxi and at 10:30 we were on our way! Today we were heading to the west of the island and our driver took us first to the Oriental Village where the cable car is also based. The Oriental Village is an open air complex of shops, bars and restaurants selling reasonably priced local food. There are several ponds with plenty of fish and lily pads with walkways and little wooden bridges around them. There are no admission fees and it is a pleasant place to relax with a drink before you take a ride on the cable car.
The 15 minute gondola cable car ride takes you high up into the mountains where you have extensive panoramic views from the top.
It may be possible for you to walk along the Langkawi Sky Bridge, located at the top of the cable car exit. Unfortunately it was closed when we visited. We made our return cable car journey, back to the Oriental Village, met our driver then on to the next stop…
As we made our way to The Datai, our driver stopped to show us a pretty waterfall. He pointed us in the direction of the waterfall as we had to walk a short distance through the rainforest to get to it. He gave us a warning: “There will be monkeys on each side… the left side are friendly and the right side are vicious…”
OK… thanks… (we gave all monkeys a wide birth…)
From the waterfall we drove to The Datai, a luxury 5* resort in the heart of the rainforest. We were welcomed in for drinks and snacks and we enjoyed exploring the beautiful tropical surroundings.
We had a tasty lunch and a glass of wine for lunch in the elegant Datai. During this time, our friendly taxi driver patiently waited before taking us back to the Tropical Resort.
Day 2 – exploring Langkawi: Kuah and the fruit farm
We began the day with a delicious breakfast which consisted of a refreshing citrus smoothie, poached egg on toast with a side of sweet potatoes and delicious coffee in Fat Cupid, Sugar’s sister bar.
Today we headed to Kuah, the capital of Langkawi with our first stop being Eagle Square where the statue of a huge eagle overlooks the attractive waterfront. It is believed the name Langkawi means ‘eagle and marble’ in Malay.
We stayed in Kuah for about an hour, having a drink and a look in the small shopping centre. From there, our driver took us to the Mardi Agro Park, an organic yet high tech fruit farm.
The fruit farm was extensive and for the equivalent of £4 each we had a tour of the farm in a 16 seater open sided truck. Half way round we stopped where we were able to try a selection of the tropical fruits grown there. There was a range which included fresh pineapple, papaya, star fruit, yellow watermelon and green grapefruit.
We arrived back in the Tropical Resort at 3 pm and chilled for a bit. Having had only fruit for lunch we were both feeling hungry. We got ready and walked along the beach to The Cliff restaurant where we had a fantastic meal overlooking the beach while we watched the sunset. In fact, we both had one of the best Thai Green curries we had ever tasted so this place is highly recommended.
Onto the Casa del Mar…
Following a night of heavy rain we took one last look at the beach before packing our stuff, checking out and getting a taxi to the Casa del Mar. The sea was more choppy than usual and we were thankful to have experienced lovely weather during our stay so far.
The journey to the Casa del Mar only took just over 5 minutes as it was literally just along the beach but we were in for an entirely different experience! We were a little early to check in so we were given a refreshing drink as we chatted to an Australian couple, Mario and Simone.
The room was awesome with lots of small touches to make it feel really special. Home baked biscuits, soaps and shampoos in little terracotta jars, slippers, beach shoes, a torch, a tin of mozzie spray and even a travel adapter!
We had a relaxing couple of days making the most of the facilities of the hotel which also had a gym and a spa where you could have treatments. As we sat next to the pool, reading our books, the bar staff kept us supplied with drinks and even came round on a regular basis with jugs of iced water. The evenings were spent having dinner on the beach at La Sal, Casa del Mar’s restaurant.
We had wonderful breakfasts at the CDM and they are still memorable as being one of the best ever… fresh fruit, freshly cooked eggs Benedict, fresh juice and smoothies all while sat under a canopy overlooking the beach in perfect weather.
We spent some time chatting with our new friends Mario and Simone. And also met a lovely couple from Leicestershire. The staff at the CDM are really friendly too and many guests return year after year.
On the second evening we were back in our room by around 5 pm and suddenly OMG! The weather had changed from hot and sunny to torrential rain with no indication at all! One minute I was sitting on the balcony feeling very hot and the next I was back in the room looking in amazement at the rain hammering down outside!
This evening we participated in a jungle walk… a wet jungle walk… We were taken by a (mad) driver to the Berjaya Hotel from where the walk started. We saw flying lemurs, flying red squirrels, bats and different types of plants. The guide explained them all as we walked along. Thankfully the rain had stopped although we got wet from the dripping trees.
Booked with the CDM we had a lovely day spent on our own on a castaway island! We were picked up by a small boat at 10:00 and whisked away to a tiny island. The scenery was very similar to that found in Koh Lanta and Krabi, which was not really surprising given the close proximity between these Malaysian and Thai places which are actually only just over 100 miles apart.
We passed the dramatic cliffs and arrived at the island where the captain set up a billowy canopy complete with towels, mattresses and a cool box containing some sandwiches, cakes, drinks and fruit. We were also left with a walki talki, a large first aid kit and a safety briefing! We were only there for a couple of hours but they did absolutely ensure we were going to be safe 🙂
Once our time was up we were collected by the captain in his small boat and taken on another scenic boat ride to the tranquil lake at the Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park. This was the location of the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden – legend has it that a princess sadly lost her baby but blessed the lake so that women who had difficulty in conceiving would become fertile once they had a dip in the lake!
Sadly, this was the last day of our amazing time in Langkawi. The following day we returned to the airport for our short flight to Singapore for the final two nights of our trip…
We loved our short time in Malaysia and are both keen to go back again. Our pre-Covid plan for 2020 was to spend our 10th anniversary in Malaysian Borneo but this has unfortunately been put on hold.
We had a great little visit to KL where we took in the highlights. It was also lovely to experience two different accommodations in Langkawi which gave us the best of both worlds. The Tropical Resort was an excellent find and we wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again. We felt really looked after by the friendly staff who even lit a mosquito coil each evening on our terrace. Staying on a room only basis gave us a wonderful opportunity to seek out and try a range of different local cafes and restaurants.
With its comfortable rooms and attention to detail, the Casa del Mar offered a fantastic luxury experience. This wasn’t quite in the league of the £500 per night Datai however as far as luxury resorts go we felt this was up there with the likes of Sandals and we would certainly recommend a stay there.